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Freedom Convoy: New convoy planned for Winnipeg in 2023

Organizers of the original “Freedom Convoy” protest that paralyzed downtown Ottawa for three weeks in early 2022 say they’re bringing a new convoy to Winnipeg this winter.

In a Facebook post, Canada Unity shared a live video in which they proclaimed that a “world unity convoy” would be held in the Manitoba capital Feb. 17 to 20, 2023.

In the video, Canada Unity founder James Bauder said they chose Winnipeg because it’s the middle point of Canada.

“People can come from the east coast, the west coast, people will be able to convoy across the nation… and we’ll meet in the middle, the heartbeat of Canada,” he said.

This appears to be a change from a previously announced “Freedom Convoy 2.0” that was apparently coming to Ottawa in February. The Winnipeg convoy was billed in the video as a chance for residents of Ottawa to “for the first time, get in on a convoy.”

CTV News Ottawa has reached out to Canada Unity for clarification about whether the previously announced event in Ottawa is cancelled or whether there will be simultaneous events. Canada Unity’s website domain appears to have expired.

During the video, organizers said they would pass by Ottawa and honk and invite residents to join them en route to Winnipeg.

In the comments to the Facebook post, Canada Unity said the city of Ottawa was hostile to them. 

“The Government and Media have made it very clear through their threats against peaceful assembly in Ottawa. Even Citizens born there are not welcome with opposing views. Violence and illegal tactics have already been announced from them. Let’s keep our voice loud but safe,” a comment from Canada Unity said. 

Bauder was arrested on Feb. 20 in Ottawa as police cleared the occupation, which gridlocked the city’s downtown for three weeks. He is facing charges of mischief to obstruct property, disobeying a lawful court order and obstructing a peace officer. He was released under a condition not to return to downtown Ottawa.

The original “Freedom Convoy” was a protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, public health protections, and the Liberal federal government more generally. It included a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) by Canada Unity that called on the Governor General and the Senate, but not the House of Commons, to form a committee with convoy protesters to end all COVID-19 health protections nationwide, something that is not possible under our system of government. The MOU was later withdrawn because it “did not reflect the spirit and intent of the Freedom Convoy,” Canada Unity said.

Bauder said this coming convoy in Winnipeg would be focused on “solutions for a better world for all Canadians” but he did not elaborate on what that means.

Ottawa police chief Eric Stubbs has said the Ottawa Police Service would be ready for a possible repeat of the convoy protest and that officers had already reached out to organizers to remind them of the city’s expectations around lawful assembly and the “unwavering posture” of police and the city.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national security advisor Jody Thomas told a parliamentary committee earlier this month that senior officials were also planning for the possibility of another convoy protest.

Thomas said Mike MacDonald, an assistant secretary to the cabinet within the Privy Council Office, has already chaired meetings “to start looking at how we’re going to respond.”

The original protest was at the heart of a national inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act—the first ever invocation of the powers in history—which was used to clear protesters out of Ottawa after three weeks.

The commissioner has until Feb. 20 to deliver his final report to Parliament, a date that coincides with the planned convoy this February.

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